Tuesday, January 12, 2010

* Cats and Dogs: Longevity on Highwatch Hill

Basil and Friend at Highwatch Hill

Highwatch (1982-2001),
who adopted ME,
off the streets of Yale and New Haven
and died at 20, thus naming her final
resting place: Highwatch Hill

Highwatch (left) Halloween (right)

Oreo (my first Dalmatian)
who lived to be 13.5 years old on Highwatch Hill

Basil (Dalmatian who lived to be 14)
and Trotter (Mixed Lab who is now 13.5 years old at
this writing) both on Highwatch Hill.

Oreo, Moi, and Jabberwocky on Highwatch Hill

Moby Dee, third in my reign of cats, which is about to be renewed with a fourth, Callie, a brown callico/tiger(far below).

Moby Dee may have been 20 in her last days at Highwatch Hill

Nemo D. Keane, Esq., a mere tyke at 7.5 years old, at Highwatch Hill

I've had cats for almost 30 years.

My first cat adopted me at Yale in 1982 and lasted 19 years. I named her Highwatch. She was already fully grown when she managed to get through the electric doors into the lobby of my building. I put her out and took her across the street to Rudy's bar where I thought I'd seen her before. Within an hour she had got into my building again. I'd been allergic to cats when I was young (sneezing, eyes watering) so I said: OK, I'll take you in for one day. If I'm not allergic you can stay. She slept, exhausted, for 24 hours after having a meal and faites la toliette.

She stayed for 19 years.

I had outgrown the allergy and she lived with me from 1982 to 2001 in Connecticut, Oregon,New Hampshire, and finally, to the magic hillside I named after her in Vermont: Highwatch Hill.

The Wizard of Oz drops in to my driveway: There's magic--and longevity -- on Highwatch Hill.

(She was probably a full 20 years old at the end, since she was full grown when she came off the streets of New Haven.)

I then immediately adopted an about-to-be-drowned kitten sister for her (Halloween) who lived from 1982 to 1999 till age 17.

After both cats had passed, I adopted a humungus rescue cat from a humane society in Manchester, Vermont who I named Moby Dee.

Their guess, from the wear on from her teeth, was that she was seven years old at the time I adopted her. She lived with a Dalamatian (Basil) and a Lab Mix (Trotter) and then my Bassett Hound, Nemo, seven more years till 2008 which would have made her 14.

However my Vet guessed when we had to put her down due to confusion and senility, that she was probably "a lot older than the humane society guessed she was" when I adopted her. So,we assume, she was probably 20 or so too at the time she left this world.

I went the entire year last year without a cat, just with my two dogs. Last week I fell in love with the antics of a neighbor's kitten and decided: time for another cat.

My vet found me an orphan (Callie) whose "person" had recently died of cancer and I am due to become a catster again in a few weeks when the arrangements can be finalized.

Callie (age 7) soon to join the longevity train on Highwatch Hill


What is it that I've missed this last year?

Certainly not the mess and odor of kitty litter.

I guess it is the unhurried elegance of a cat's presence. Her (I've only had shees)
studied haughteur; her enigmatic gaze across my livingroom at a world she surveys as entirely under her command, even when a hiss is required to subdue a nosey dog.

I guess it is their self-sustaining independence. My first cat, Highwatch, was ill only once in 19 years, with an infection around age 17, and quickly recovered after a trip to the vet.

She remained on her feet till the last day.

I guess what I like about cats is their pretense that they don't need me. And what I like about dogs is their non-pretense, at least the male dogs I've had.

They need me.

My female dogs have been cats in that regard. They don't need me, or at least don't show it.

But they would die, protecting me.

No comments: